Moyes' house of horrors
A LARGE hoarding on the Sir Alex Ferguson stand proclaims the place as 'The Theatre of Dreams' but for Manchester United and David Moyes last Sunday, it was anything but.
I'd never been to Old Trafford before and on first impression it really is a spectacular arena. You can see how teams and officials are intimidated by the stadium and the partisan supporters. Throughout Ferguson's reign, United always got the close decisions here.
The canny Scot utilised this intimidating atmosphere to his side's full advantage. He bullied opposing managers, reporters, referees, linesmen and fourth officials. Commentators were afraid to ask him the hard questions for fear of retribution.
He was the master of the dark art with his notorious mind games and fiery temper. Some teams were already a goal or two down before the referee blew the starting whistle.
However, within months of Ferguson's departure all has changed. United were atrocious last weekend against their arch rivals and title chasing Liverpool.
Watching them up close, several United players 'didn't try a leg' for Moyes. They didn't appear to have the stomach for the fight and chose to bluff their way through the game, making exaggerated attempts to pretend they were trying.
An old football manager of mine often used the expression 'he was in a hurry not to get there' and that's exactly how you would describe some of the United players efforts at tackling.
Chief among them was Robin Van Persie who was completely anonymous for the entire 90 minutes. He, along with several others, has obviously chosen to down tools on David Moyes. In my opinion the senior players don't rate Moyes and this has seeped through to the remainder of the squad.
In fairness to the United supporters they gave their manager and players a huge ovation as they made their way down the tunnel at the end of the game but maybe this was more an act of defiance to the celebrating Liverpool fans than a show of support.
This 3-0 trouncing encapsulated all that is wrong with Manchester United under David Moyes as they slipped to their sixth home defeat of the season. Yes, United suffered home defeats under Ferguson too but nothing as abject as this.
Liverpool could hardly believe their luck. From start to finish Brendan Rodgers' side outplayed United in every department and added to the pain and humiliation Moyes continues to suffer at Old Trafford. He didn't help himself either with his 4-4-2 formation with the diminutive Mata and Januzaj on the wings. Steven Gerard and Co cut through the porous midfield at will and the only surprise in the first half was that it took a marauding Liverpool side until the 34th minute to open the scoring.
With Alex Ferguson high up in the stands, referee Clattenburg was free to award penalties as he saw fit. He awarded three (it could have been five). The 3-0 scoreline was not a fair reflection of the Merseysiders total dominance. A score-line of five or six wouldn't have flattered them.
So what's next for United? Before witnessing this game first hand I would have thought that Moyes, no matter what, was safe until the middle of next season. But I was shocked at the lack of effort by the players and the apparent ineptitude along the sideline.
Although his players were most culpable, Moyes failed to make a change until the 75th minute, long after the game had ended as a contest. This group of players won last year's Premiership by eleven points and now they lie mid-table 14 points adrift of the top four.
The Theatre of Dreams has turned into a House of Horrors. A witty Mancunian sitting to my right blamed Ferguson for the mess and proclaimed Moyes as his worst ever signing, ahead even of Djemba Djemba and Massimo Taibi. If United lose to Olympiakos on Wednesday night in the Champions League I think Moyes could be relieved of his duties.
The funniest moment of the whole afternoon came at the end of the game when three groundsmen made their way onto the perfectly manicured surface with lawnmowers. The shout came out from a scouser behind us 'Look! Van Persie, Rooney and Mata have been sent out to cut the grass'. Even some of the United supporters laughed.
The Irish Rugby team provided Brian O'Driscoll with a fairytale finale to his international career with a magnificent win in Paris in the final Six Nations game of the season. Ireland defended heroically in the closing 15 minutes to seal a famous 22-20 victory and secure the Championship. O'Driscoll was instrumental in two of Irelands tries and contributed greatly to the win. The Clontarf man has given us some wonderful moments during his career and it was fitting that he could sign off with a win on such a momentous occasion.
Louth too, stopped the recent run of poor results with a creditable draw against Galway at the weekend in the Gaelic Grounds. Although it's still mathematically possible for Louth to survive in Division 2, most supporters are just hoping for an uplift in performance prior to the championship meeting with Westmeath in Mullingar.
There are still two league matches to come in the next two weeks against Donegal and Meath, but it looks as though we will be plying our trade in the third tier in 2015.
In a busy week at Cheltenham, one winner (Tammys Hill in the Foxhunters Chase) from our four selections added a little bit more to our charity total. This week we go for a 7/4 treble on three home wins in the National Hurling League Division 1 for Kilkenny, Tipperary and Clare.